Country-western singer John
Michael Montgomery sang it best; “Life’s a dance.”
But if it were a song on a soundtrack meant for sisters Libby and Sylvia Borash, the words might be reversed to “dance is life.”
“I just love to dance,” said 14-year-old Sylvia, with her 11-year-old sister smiling and nodding in agreement inside a studio at Music General, the girl’s second home. “It’s really a huge part of my life. It is my life.”
It’s no wonder how dancing became such a large part of their lives. Both girls began taking dance classes at the age of 3 after their mom, and dance instructor herself, Amy, signed them up for classes for some mother-daughter bonding opportunities.
“It’s a lot of fun, I love it as much as they do,” said Amy, who danced in dance line during high school and has been an instructor at Music General for more than 20 years. “It gives me a chance to spend a lot of one-on-one time with my girls. It’s a very hands-on thing, too. I am doing their hair, doing their makeup and helping them get dressed.
Between the hair, makeup and dance costumes is the competition. That’s where both Libby and Sylvia really shine.
Returning from a week-long tap dance workshop in New York City called Slide, held from July 22-27, both Libby and Sylvia established themselves among the top tap dancers across the nation. Libby finished first in her age division, earning a full-scholarship to attend the premier workshop next year, while Sylvia finished equally as well with second-place and a half-scholarship to put toward next year.
And at an $850 cost per girl to attend Slide, every penny helps.
“It’s (dance) a lot of time and money, I could have bought a new car with all the money we put in to this,” joked Amy, who said every competition the girls win the money earned goes right back into their dance fund. “But it’s also great to see them enjoying themselves the way they do and see their hardwork pay off in the competitions. The two of them together in scholarships have won thousands.
“Add that in to all that they are learning at these workshops and the instructors they are learning them from, teachers who have taught on Broadway and (TV show) ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ it’s worth it.”
One instructor who can vouch for both of the girl’s abilities and talent is Mike Minery. A tap master and choreographer who teaches all over the country, including stops in Brainerd four weeks out of the year, Minery said he has seen some of the nation’s best dancers, and Libby and Sylvia are among them.
“They are both very talented,” said Minery, who toured the world himself as a tap dancer and was named the 1997 World Tap Champion along with being a highly esteemed choreographer. “Not only do they have natural talent, but they are hardworking and really seem to love to do it and in this industry you have to have all three.
“The event last week (Slide) had the best kids in the country for their age, and it is clear that they are in the top few percent and as good as anybody their age in tap.
Minery turned to their girl’s and beaming smiles, reminding them to “not let it go to their heads.”
And neither has. Even racking up the number of successes, including Sylvia’s national championship performance last year where she garnered the most points out of any solo in any category at the national competition, they enjoy the work and perfecting their craft just as much.
“I don’t mind the practice,” said Sylvia, who estimates she spends nearly eight hours a week, six days a week dancing, along with teaching a younger kids class. Libby spends a little more than six hours, three days a week. “I like tap because I excel at it, but I like practicing and learning other dances, too. It’s all just really fun.”
And even if life doesn’t yield a career of dance, both girls are prepared for future endeavors with the same hardwork and determination they have in dance.
“I want to be on Broadway but if not that, then I want to be an optometrist,” said Sylvia.
And for Libby, “I want to be a vet or want to keep dancing.”